Cuban Missile Crisis: history pleads ‘Press RESET button!’

COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, January 18, 2018

Jack Frost knows how to press the right button in Nature’s art department, as this frost on columnist’s dining room window suggests. Photo by Warren Harbeck

If ever we needed a reminder to press the RESET button on international relations, this past Saturday’s false missile alert just might qualify. Through human error, residents of Hawaii spent 38 terror-filled minutes uncertain whether they’d live to see another day after the wrong button was pressed at the state’s Emergency Management Agency warning them of an imminent ballistic missile strike.

It was as if current events had conspired to provide the opener for this week’s follow-up column to last week’s on defeating the Lie by pressing the RESET button.

Former Cochrane-area resident Sandy McLeod, now living in Kaslo, BC, responded with reference to another life-and-death moment in world affairs on Oct. 27, 1962, the Cuban Missile Crisis, that Black Saturday when two world leaders were within minutes of pressing the wrong button, the nuclear button of mutual annihilation.

“As a Royal Canadian Air Force flight engineer stationed in France with NATO during that deadly alert situation in 1962, I waited with bated breath right up until midnight as the clock ticked down to see if the world would be caught up in a major nuclear attack,” Sandy says.

“Now we are witnessing the nightmare again, only this is current and frightening for all people across the world as two nations push the unbelievable boundary of human misunderstanding and raw power.”

Sandy alluded to a comment by one of the contributors to last week’s column: “Tami Anderson hit the nail on the head,” he said. Tami had spoken of the global struggle for power and control that envelops all of us in darkness. “We can be individually touched by the Lie,” she’d said. “To find the courage to stand against it becomes a personal journey.”

I’d forwarded Sandy’s comment to Tami, and she responded that she remembered well the Cuban Missile Crisis. “I grew up on Canadian Forces Base Rivers,” she said. “We had many drills, preparing for destruction. Calmer minds prevailed.”

Sandy replied to her: “I was one of those watching the clock. We all wondered if a rogue military leader would push the button regardless of the worldwide international Stand Down order.” He finally fell asleep.

“I awoke the next morning to dead silence. For months the fighters had been coming and going endlessly all day and night. As my eyes opened I said to myself, ‘I am alive.’ A moment later for the first time in months I heard a bird right outside my barracks window loudly chirping, as if to say, ‘I am alive and well and so are you; get up and get going.’”

Yes, fortunately, U.S. President John F. Kennedy and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev chose to press the Reset button instead of the nuclear button that evening, and no rogue subordinate pressed the wrong button in error. For more about Sandy’s Black Saturday experience, see my Remembrance Day column for Nov. 10, 2010.

Changing the topic from the frightening to the fabulous, Jack Frost certainly presses the right button in Nature’s art department. I’ll conclude with a photo I took last week of his artistry on our dining room window. How about a button like that?


© 2018 Warren Harbeck

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